NEWS - Monday, September 15, 2003

Microsoft Updates Xbox with XBL 2.0

Do you mind them doing this? If they do this to the Xbox, what could they be doing to our PC's without asking us?
Microsoft has started automatically updating Xbox game consoles with a new version of the Dashboard software. When users use "Xbox-Live", the feature of the Xbox that lets you play against other people on the Internet, the Xbox will also download some bug fixes without asking you. The Xbox games do have a warning on them that connecting to the Xbox Live Vole Service may update your Xbox, however. The particular bug that this update will correct for the user is the ability to run Linux. Once the update is in place you will not be able to install Linux on your Xbox any more, at least not in the convenient way that the Dashboard bug allowed, according to the XboxLinux pages. An interesting aspect of this affair is the insight it provides into the future of trussed-up computing, the initiative that promises to make your computer a restricted zone where content providers (Vole Central, the members of the RIAA or the MPAA, etc.) can keep control over their data even as they extract payment from you for the enjoyment of it. The Xbox software/hardware combination is a test bed for a lot of this technology and this is unlikely to be the last patch to fix a bug that end users don't necessarily want fixing. The Xbox only runs software approved by Microsoft. Part of the approval procedure involves promising to pay taxes (for each game sold) to the Vole empire. Since the Xbox itself is generally assumed to be sold at a loss, this source of income is vital to the Volish plan to burrow into the games console market. Needless to say, there's no version of Linux that is approved by Microsoft for use on the Xbox. Therefore there is no version of Linux with the requisite electronic signature attached. Without the signature the Xbox will reject your CD or DVD. To install Linux on your Xbox using the Dashboard bug you need only a special memory stick (which you can borrow or make on a modern Mac or any other computer with both Unix-a-like and USB) plus the Microsoft game MechAssault. You put a specially crafted file on the memory stick that looks like a saved MechAssault game, but is, in fact a bundle of devious Linux-installing cleverness. Load the 'saved game' and suddenly your Xbox will accept a Linux CD despite the lack of a signature. It still won't accept random non-signed content, so you can't run unlicensed copies of games like you can if you open up your Xbox and install an mod chip.
Full Story Here!


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